What’s wrong with the Republican Party in Wisconsin?

As it prepares for its annual convention in Oshkosh this weekend, the state GOP wants to retool its strategy in the wake of losing every statewide race last fall.

The state party’s post-election review, the State Journal revealed this week, faulted itself for losing touch with grassroots supporters, and for taking a top-down approach that relied too heavily on outside consultants and elaborate advertising.

The state GOP also ran into debt trying unsuccessfully to save Gov. Scott Walker from defeat. The party’s poor and embarrassing financial management included missing insurance payments and maxing out its credit card.

But none of that comes close to the Republicans’ most obvious and costly flaw, which party leaders seem to ignore: Donald Trump.

The crude and chaotic president is hardly conservative. He’s a radical departure from traditional American values — including decency — with his juvenile insults, constant lying, secrecy and unethical behavior.

Despite a strong economy, Trump is adding $800 billion a year in debt to the nation’s $22 trillion tab that our children and grandchildren will be stuck with.

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Most Republicans say they favor a free-market economy, and Trump has eased some business regulations and taxes. But he’s also escalating trade wars that will cost American consumers in higher prices for myriad products and lead to retaliation against Wisconsin businesses and farmers who sell overseas.

Just as bad, Trump shows little interest in supporting democracy around the world. Instead, he has embraced dictators — one of whom literally chopped an American-based journalist into pieces, and another who starves his own people and covets nuclear missiles.

Trump is the Republican Party’s problem, plain and simple — and emphatically.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and other GOP officials in Wisconsin can tinker around the edges to try to improve their party’s chances before the 2020 election. But their constant kowtowing to Trump’s impulsive antics and ego isn’t helping the party’s future.

Trump was the first Republican candidate for president since Ronald Reagan to win Wisconsin in 2016. So some conservatives have decided they’ll put up with Trump if it means he can carry the state again and continue to appoint conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A Republican-backed candidate also narrowly won a seat on the state Supreme Court this spring, suggesting core supporters are re-energized.

But the Trump brand is cheap and unsustainable. He’s ruining the party’s principles. What’s wrong with the GOP in Wisconsin is the same thing that’s wrong with the party in every state in the nation: The divisive and distracting showboat at the top.

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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